Chapter 12a, Part Two
A Journey Begins…
Chapter Twelve, Part B…On a March
There armed lines of marching men in squadrons passed me by,
No pipe did hum nor battle drum did sound its loud tattoo
But the Angelus Bell o'er the Liffey's swell rang out through the foggy dew
-The Foggy Dew, version by The Chieftains
October, TA 2941
“I leave you on your own for one conference and you manage to anger both Celeborn and Galadriel,” Erestor stated. He threw his arm around Glorfindel’s shoulders. “I do not think I have ever been so proud of you, my dear friend.”
“For a councilor of a great realm, you have quite the taste for large disagreements,” Glorfindel observed.
“I just believe that Imladris should not stand as the only elven realm willing to stick out its neck. As the Elder Race of Arda we have a responsibility to the Free Peoples and I will not have the elves of Lothlorien giving us all a reputation for standing aside when there is a fight to be had,” Erestor replied. He removed his arm from Glorfindel’s shoulder and went to pour them both some wine.
“Even when it may antagonize our relations with the dwarves?” Glorfindel asked.
“You would think that would be motivation enough for the elves here,” Erestor said. He handed Glorfindel his glass. After taking a sip of his own, he said, “I believe, when all causes are presented and weighed, the dwarves of Arda will not come down with a judgment against Imladris. We are too long their ally. If we do send our elves as nothing but a pack of healers to the battleground, they will not be allowed to fault such a thing. We must tend to all the fallen on the field, whether it be elf, dwarf, or man.” Erestor paced to the other side of the room. “That does not mean, however, that more aid cannot be given to Mirkwood in the form of advice and political alliances. It would not do to have you lead a march, my friend.” He held up a hand at Glorfindel’s protest. “You have a way of being noticed, Glorfindel, and it is something you cannot help. You are more of the Blessed Realm than of this one and when you fight, you shine as if the Valar themselves have entered the fray. Your presence will distract them. The men of Lake-town, Thranduil’s elves, they need to know that they can fight on their own in this small skirmish. But, if one was to offer aid from inside Thranduil’s palace, a gauntlet of quick and smart training perhaps, I do not think an insult could be found there, if I may say so myself.”
“Would Berenon accept such aid?” Glorfindel asked. “Would it not be viewed as a lack of faith in his abilities if an elf such as myself entered his home with unlooked for advice?”
Erestor considered this and with a nod of his head said, “Berenon is a sharp elf and knows well the history of our kind. He knows unlooked for advice is not often unwanted. I dare say he could use your presence. Thranduil will leave Tangwen at the palace but he will take Legolas and Tirnion with him on the march. I assume he will leave Balanauth in the palace as well, as our dear friend does not know the land as well as our Woodland kin.”
Glorfindel nodded, conceding to Erestor’s wisdom. He swirled the wine in his glass. “Eluialeth will want to come.”
“And so she shall go,” Erestor agreed. “I expect you to guard her as fiercely as you do Morwen. I love my daughters equally, Glorfindel, but Eluialeth is also one of my brightest workers.” Erestor walked over to the balcony, gripping the carved wooden railing with his able hands. “As much as it pains me to say this, I think it will be good for her to see what the cost of war brings in terms of life. She has only witnessed small and isolated attacks for all her years on Arda and while as a father I strive to keep her innocent, as the Chief Councilor I cannot do so and let her hold such a position.” He sighed. “Sometimes I feel the healing tents are worse than the battleground.”
Glorfindel followed him. “It never sits well having elves or men beg for a swift death when they realize their bodies are no longer whole,” he agreed. He placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder with a strong grip. “The elflings we raised are strong, Erestor, and Eluialeth has learned to keep a calm façade in the face of chaos.”
“She was so terrified after that first attack on Morwen. This battle has Tirnion as one of its fighters, someone I suspect will become more dear to her over the years.”
“She does not know yet her own heart,” Glorfindel said. “That may help matters.”
“Or make them worse,” Erestor argued. “It never does well for a love to be realized when death is imminent.”
Glorfindel rested his head on Erestor’s other shoulder. “I do hope we never see the likes of the Battle of the Last Alliance again but a shadow has been growing in my mind as the years go on. Despite the work of the wizards, I fear it will only be a temporary solution to a much more serious problem.”
“You and I have seen too much of this world,” Erestor whispered. “I fear our time on Arda is drawing to a close. Grey ships are in our future.”
“They always were,” Glorfindel said. “But I think we still have time yet; time enough for you to terrify the next five generations of Men.”
“You always know how to cheer up an old friend, Glorfindel,” Erestor said. “Now, let us go press our will on Celeborn and Galadriel.”
“We have Ellech’s backing and I think, in their hearts, Celeborn and Galadriel want to offer aid, just not at the risk to their forces.”
Erestor studied the trees and the twilight filtering through its leaves. “By the end we must all risk something; every action has a cost and I fear in the years to come it will be more a time of cost than of reward.”
Morwen sat beside Arwen, brushing out the snarls in Eluialeth’s hair. “You are worse than Elladan when it comes to getting twigs in your hair,” she chastised.
“May I remind you we are surrounded by massive trees,” Eluialeth replied.
“Maybe the trees are trying to get one of their saplings back to Imladris,” Arwen said. “Can you imagine my father’s face?”she asked.
“He would have an utter fit,” Morwen agreed.
“Luckily for Lord Elrond these trees cannot grow in the realm of Imladris,” Eluialeth said, tapping the grey tree trunk for emphasis.
“Yet another reason the Golden Wood is lauded over the River Valley,” Haldir sneered from the platform above them.
“To the elves of the Golden Wood at least,” Eluialeth muttered. She turned back to the book in her lap.
“What are you reading?” Arwen asked. “It is quite slim compared to the volumes I am used to seeing in your hands.”
“Mayhap you came home more you would be able to remember the size of the volumes I read,” Eluialeth said.
Arwen groaned. “Every single elf of Imladris which passes through must make a comment, why is this?”
“Your father has us trained well,” Morwen said.
“We receive strict instruction before we are allowed to ride out,” Eluialeth agreed. “But to answer your original question, it is a collection of my father’s memories from the battlefields of the First and Second Age. It is very informal in tone, style, and calligraphy which is why it appears so slim. Memories are more important than form in here.”
Arwen smiled. “If it is possible, I would much like to read it when you are finished.”
Eluialeth held the book out to her. “You may read it now. I’ve read it often and finished my last re-read last night. It is more of a touchstone these days.”
Arwen accepted the book with careful hands. “I thank you, Eluialeth, and I will treat it well.”
“As Elrond’s daughter I know you are well versed in how to treat a book properly,” she said.
“Even if his sons may sometimes forget,” Galueth called out as she entered the glade. “I am sorry to interrupt, though not so sorry to have an excuse to escape that gathering of march warden mates I was stuck in. Honestly, you would think it is my fault orcs are attacking the eastern borders.” She dropped down beside her sister and began to brush dirt off Eluialeth’s dark dress. “Why must you wear such dark clothes with your dark coloring? You would look radiant in something other than dark blue or black.”
“I occasionally wear a dark purple, much like our mother,” Eluialeth replied.
“No matter,” Galueth said, “I think you should try a lighter blue or perhaps a rich forest green.”
Morwen dropped Eluialeth’s hair to press a hand over her mouth, Arwen mimicking her action, as Eluialeth narrowed her eyes at her older sister.
“Do not think I do not understand what you are implying, sister, and I fear that too much time under these trees has left you with fanciful notions of an idle mind,” Eluialeth said. “I am glad to see you again, but if you insist with this talk which borders on idle gossip, I fear I will have to find another groups of elves with which to take my respite.”
“I do have a reason for coming,” Galueth said. “Morwen, Rilasseth asks that you plead her cause to Celeborn and Galadriel. Something has settled in her mind and she wishes to return home as soon as an escort is able to form.”
“Why does she not ask herself? She is royal by marriage.”
“She knows you have the ear of both Glorfindel and Erestor and therefore more power to plead her case. She also is not feeling well and has decided to rest for the night.” Galueth turned her eyes to the sky. “I fear something unexpected may visit Mirkwood’s forces and that is causing Rilasseth to worry. Something in the air has her archer instincts on guard. I have never seen her so tense.”
Morwen stood, brushing the leaves off her skirts. “Well, do I look presentable enough?”
“No,” Arwen, Eluialeth, and Galueth answered.
Arwen stood, Eluialeth’s book grasped in her hands. “Let us leave the two sisters to gossip idly while I prepare you for a meeting with my grandparents. I wish to start Eluialeth’s book anyway, and if you depart with the dawn I must complete it before then.”
“There is no guarantee I will be going with them,” Eluialeth said.
Arwen just shook her head. She nudged Morwen with her shoulder. “Let us go.”
Morwen followed Arwen’s lead as she knew the pathways of the wood better than any other elf of Imladris.
“I do so dislike having to put on appearance for appearance’s sake even if I know it is required by virtue of formality,” Morwen mumbled.
“Grandmother will always value ceremony on some things,” Arwen agreed. She walked over to Morwen’s wardrobe and pulled out her councilor robes.
“Out of all the daughters of all the nobility of all the races on Arda, you are the only one I know who dresses other people,” Morwen said. She knew it was best to sit back and let Arwen do as she wanted; it was a trait she inherited in spades from her mother.
“We live to time uncounted and I enjoy putting together a good outfit and appearance for others. It is a requirement for a Lady of the Court to know how to make a good presentation of herself and her household. My mother taught me that lesson from a young age, knowing more of the political intrigues of sewing circles than anything my father, Erestor, or Glorfindel could provide. Mother once said more political decisions were made through the pressing of a powerful elf’s bedmate than through a council,” Arwen said. She nodded in satisfaction as she pulled out a pair of lightweight boots and a cap for Morwen’s hair.
“What exactly are you trying to imply, Arwen?” Morwen asked.
“Nothing in the least,” Arwen said. “Now, go get washed up and then we force you into those horrid but necessary robes. We will make you a picture of modesty and humility as my grandparents have not seen in the many months you have dwelled here.”
Morwen followed her orders, trying not to grimace at the cold water in the washing bowls. Of the many things in Imladris’ favor, the advanced plumbing system was certainly at the top. Clay and copper tubes did not work well, however, for elves who spent their days in trees, so cleansing came either in the cold rain water collected on each level of the trees or from the river and streams in the area.
“This is the only elven realm that forces it guests to wash in cold water,” she said.
“You will live, oh pampered councilor,” Arwen told her. She walked up behind Morwen and began to brush out her hair. “We do not have much time to get you ready.”
“Then I suggest we walk and brush and adjust on the way because you know it takes me much time to navigate the stairways and tree branches.” Morwen pulled out of Arwen’s grasp long enough to don the new shift and skirt. She took a moment to shake out her body as the familiar weight of the councilor robes settled. Little of her time in Lothlorien had been spent in an official capacity and the fit of the robes seemed almost unfamiliar.
“You look so different with those on,” Arwen observed. “Your face becomes more tense and you hold your head higher.”
“Political facades being what they are, the robe is the councilor’s armor.” Morwen let Arwen finish the loose plait of her hair before helping her in putting on the modest cap which covered most of her head.
“Ready?” Arwen asked.
“To face your grandparents as a councilor approaching with an unpopular request? No, of course not, but it is not for my need that this request must be made.”
Arwen nodded. “Why is it that the councilors of Imladris seem to be the councilors to all of Arda?” she asked, guiding Morwen out of her chambers and through the twist and turn of tree branches.
“Because your father insists on keeping a sanctuary open even when all other elves close their borders,” Morwen answered.
“My father, the upstart,” Arwen murmured. She stopped them at the entrance to official hall, pulling Morwen into a hug. “Good luck,” she whispered into her hair.
“With such a wish from the Evenstar, I think my task will go much easier,” Morwen teased, tugging on a strand of Arwen’s hair. “Go rejoin Erestor’s daughters. Someone should spend this whole day in enjoyment.”
“As the councilor bids,” Arwen said, with a cheeky curtsey.
Morwen laughed, watching her as she ran down the tree limbs and staircases in a most informal way. No one would ever dare tell Lady Arwen that her behavior was improper for she was beloved of so many.
She took a deep fortifying breath and entered the platform before the stairs leading up to Galadriel and Celeborn’s study. She was surprised to find Rumil on duty.
“You are not at the borders,” Morwen observed.
Rumil shrugged. “The Lady and Lord seem content to keep me closer to Caras Galadhon and their home. Do you wish to see them?”
Morwen nodded. “If they are willing to receive a visit from a foreign councilor at this time, yes,” she said.
He studied her with a cool gaze. “I did wonder why you were garbed so. Let me go ask their permission. I know you are well versed in the need to stand there and not touch anything but I am still ordered to inform you of such.”
She waved him off. “We all have our duty, Rumil, go do yours.”
It was not long before Rumil returned, beckoning for her to follow him up the stairs. He held back the heavy tapestry which marked the entrance to the Lord and Lady’s study and followed Morwen inside.
“Councilor Morwen of Imladris, what brings you before us in an official capacity?” Lady Galadriel asked.
“I thank you for seeing me,” Morwen started, but wasted no time by stating, “Lady Rilasseth wishes to return to her home.”
“It is not safe,” Lord Celeborn stated.
Morwen nodded in agreement but argued, “She confesses to a fear that something grave will occur if she stays here and does not journey back to Thranduil’s palace. She is as safe behind that rock as she is under these trees. If Mithrandir and Curunir made good on their promise of clearing out the forests, and from Mithrandir’s words to Lord Glorfindel they have, then it is best if she returns home. The elves of that wood have undergone many changes living under the Shadow, one of those being a period of pregnancy and childbirth full of even more risk. I know she was first brought here for protection, but all the protection in Arda will not save her or her child if her soul is full of warning and her body uneasy.”
“Lady Rilasseth sent you here because she is too weak to make the request on her own and yet you think she could make a fast and harsh ride to Thranduil’s Halls?” Lady Galadriel asked.
“I think Lady Rilasseth is like all of us who spend time away from our homes. When we know we face a return journey, we find it easier to push forward and carry on. The only thing that will set Lady Rilasseth's mind at ease now is to be by the side of Crown Prince Berenon,” Morwen answered.
Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel stared at her in silence for many moments until Lady Galadriel lowered her head in acknowledgment.
“If you are able to secure the permission of Lord Glorfindel to head Lady Rilasseth’s escort, and if you will also go in the capacity of protector for her in the name of both Imladris and Lothlorien, then we will concede to Lady Rilasseth's wishes,” she decreed.
Morwen bowed low. “Thank you, Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn, may the Valar continue to bless you with wisdom.” With a final nod she took her leave of them and hurried down through the trees to locate Glorfindel.
Glorfindel leaned against a desk and studied the map Erestor had laid out before him.
“Whoever holds the river will be at an advantage,” Erestor observed.
“Yes, but if the dwarves call on their kin it will divide the field of battle,” Glorfindel said. “Though, knowing how Thranduil’s mind works, there will be more than one front and a few hidden regiments.’
“He does still have one of the most extraordinary minds for battlefield strategies,” Erestor agreed. “If only his father would have listened to his words.”
“Thranduil learned the hard way that you must expect any and all eventualities.” Glorfindel tapped a finger on the map. “When his father fell, so the stories go, Thranduil only paused to gather up his body and drag it back behind the lines. His quick thinking in diverting the troops saved many lives that day. I would wish death on no elf, save a few, and certainly never Oropher, but I do think it is to the Wood Elves benefit that Thranduil has held the crown this past Age and not Oropher.”
“And yet, they still hold to many of Oropher’s traditions.”
“What else do elves who have faced many deaths and many moves have to hold on to if not tradition? Oropher was not a bad fellow but he was as full of pride as any Noldor. I do believe that is why he disliked us so much. If his rash actions on that battlefield that day had resulted in victory, history would be praising him as a quick witted maverick as opposed to an elf who let pride and obstinacy lead him to death.”
“Critiquing the scribes again, are we?” Erestor asked.
“There is a certain slant to history, is there not?” Glorfindel asked in return.
“Indeed, there is. But more people learn of our past through the lore and the songs than through what sits in our archives and libraries. There is a reason for that certain slant.”
“Penlod often muttered the same complaints,” Glorfindel admitted. He turned back to the lists on his temporary desk held down by one of the many Lothlorien paperweights. This one carried the image of the famous mallorn trees. He picked it up and twirled it between his hands. “Some things do stay the same throughout the Ages,” he said. “We do so love our trees. We need to help Thranduil’s people in being able to walk under their own again.”
Erestor smiled. “Then I suggest we finish your roster for the escort and for Arwen’s guard once you depart,” he said.
“I thought you would be guard enough,” Glorfindel said.
“We both know how easily Arwen slips free from my sight,” Erestor said.
Glorfindel’s reply was cut short from the commotion outside of the doorway. The curtain went flying back as Morwen stormed inside garbed in all her Councilor regalia, a distraught page trailing behind her.
“Councilor Morwen, they are in a meeting,” the page cried. “You cannot interrupt them.”
Morwen’s reply was a dark glare.
Glorfindel held up a hand. “I assure you, Councilor Morwen has earned the right to interrupt any meetings held by myself or Chief Councilor Erestor. She is especially allowed to do this when she has that look on her face or else it means my future days will not be peaceful ones.”
“But Haldir said,” the page protested
“Haldir of the Golden Wood does not command the practices and policies of the elves of Imladris. It would be best if you did not make yourself a pawn in the eternal battle between Haldir and Morwen,” Erestor advised.
“Of course, Chief Councilor Erestor,” he said. Giving a brief bow the page departed, straightening the curtain closed behind him.
“That was an impressive entrance,” Glorfindel said.
Erestor and Morwen gave him identical bored looks before conducting some sort of silent conversation he had only ever seen councilors hold.
“I take it there is news?” he asked, leaning back against his desk.
Morwen nodded, her eyes meeting his. She spoke in an official tone, “I am to seek approval from you to head up an escort that will take Lady Rilasseth and myself to King Thranduil’s Halls. I am then to ask you to stay with us as I aid her in any way she may so require.”
“Isn’t that an interesting change of orders,” Glorfindel said.
“Oh, we all know well how Galadriel is. Once she admits she may have held the incorrect view on something she finds a way to make it seem like it was her good idea all along. Valar forbid she ever admits to being wrong,” Erestor grumbled. “Do you have a suggested time for departure?”
“As soon as we are able,” Morwen replied.
“With the dawn then,” Glorfindel said, “for I have already began the selection and order for an escort. We were to leave here with or without Galadriel’s approval.”
“Yet another reason why you are a warrior and I am forced to handle diplomacy,” Erestor said.
“Were you not just praising me for forcing Galadriel’s hand?” Glorfindel asked.
“I was indeed, however, I would not have you riding out of here and insulting her decrees. We both know her acquiescence comes from the words Cirdan far spoke with her. Though how he knew of such events in the Golden Wood is quite the riddle, is it not?” Erestor asked.
“I have no idea what you are implying, Erestor, but I know I do not like that tone. If I may have let slip something about events in this part of Arda while answering Cirdan’s inquiries on how Arwen was faring it cannot be blamed on anything other than a long and abiding friendship. I would certainly never suggest that Cirdan let Galadriel know how wrong she was, for that would be undermining her authority in a most painful way of dealing with a chastisement from Cirdan the Shipwright himself.”
“Ever the undermining mischief maker you are,” Erestor said. “How Turgon did not throw you out of that city I will never know.”
Glorfindel’s smile was small as he remembered his old king. “Who do you think taught me all those undermining techniques? Despite being a proud ass with a crown and a throne, Turgon was incredibly knowledgeable about the game of politics.”
“Shall I go inform Rilasseth of the good news, then?” Morwen asked.
“Yes. You should also pack your essentials. Anything else and I am certain Erestor will hold them for you,” he replied.
“It is my destiny in life to be buried under paper, parchment, and vellum,” Erestor lamented. “I will do as Glorfindel says, you may go,” he dismissed Morwen with a warm smile and a pat on the shoulder.
Glorfindel and Erestor stood in companionable silence until she cleared the doorway.
“When you take Eluialeth with you on this journey, please do not let her threaten anymore violence than necessary against Thranduil’s elves,” Erestor said.
“I make no promises,” Glorfindel said. He rolled up the map on the desk. “Sometimes I wonder why I even bother to unload my pack. It seems as if I spend all my days riding from one end of Arda to the other.”
“My friend, you would not know what to do with your hours if you spent all of the years of your life in the same place. If you did not hold such a connection to Elrond’s home, I swear you’d be off with Gildor’s people.”
“After some of the twins more memorable tantrums, I will admit to have pondered such a life,” Glorfindel said. He threw an arm over Erestor’s shoulder. “Come with me, my dear Chief Councilor, and I will foist off the various papers I’ve yet to read or respond to into your capable hands.”
Erestor shook his head and laughed. “I was feeling far too idle in my time here,” he replied.
Morwen hurried around her quarters in one final check through of her packs. Galueth was aiding Eluialeth in her own packing, while Morwen served as Arwen’s afternoon entertainment. Arwen sat nestled against one of the tree limbs with an ever-widening grin on her face.
“Only weeks spent in residence and I wonder how I have managed to acquire this many papers and ledgers,” Morwen said. She looked on in despair as she took in her small packs and the piles upon piles of notes, letters, and books. She’d already set aside three stacks for Erestor but she was at a loss over what to do with all the other documents. .
Arwen shook her head. She walked over to the bed and took in all the stacks of paper with an arched eyebrow. Turning to Morwen she said, “I think it is best that you do not dwell here longer. And to think, you claimed to dislike the archives here.”
“They are woefully lacking on some subjects,” Morwen argued.
“Clearly not all of them,” Arwen said, picking up a hefty bundled stack of parchment. “I can take some of these into my care, if you so desire. Send them back with all my letters to Father.”
“I could never part you from your notations,” Arwen answered. She sat down on the bed, reaching a hand out to steady one of their stacks. “Are you certain you will have no need for any of this in King Thranduil’s home?”
“Some of these,” Morwen paused and walked to the other side of the room. She held up a stack with a triumphant smile. “As I was saying, some of these do contain interesting theories about herbs native to the area of Lake-town which serve well in quickly made salves for burns and sores. We may be in need of that. There was also some old survey maps of mining areas that might come into good use as Thranduil expands his caves.”
Arwen shuddered. “I do not think I could live underground,” she confessed.
“So says an elf who spends much of her time in trees,” Morwen teased.
Arwen tilted her head back in a graceful manner. “Be it Imladris or Lothlorien, it is always in the open air,” she said.
Morwen walked over to her and tugged on a strand of her hair. “There are many parts of Thranduil’s home open to the air and the trees. He does so love his forest and the trees who have survived the Shadow love him in return. I do not think he could be without them for very long. Thranduil may not be of the Silvan by birth, but he is one by heart,” she said.
“And the Silvan live in trees,” Arwen reminded her.
“Not in Mirkwood,” Morwen said. “Not anymore. Be it ground or tree, it is no longer safe to live anywhere that is not behind doors which open and close at the Elvenking’s command.”
“One day they may return to their natural homes,” Arwen said. “I am hopeful of that. Dawn comes after the night, as we know.”
Morwen rested her head on Arwen’s shoulder. “Yet there is always another night,” she said.
“And always another dawn,” Arwen countered. “And always those willing to fight for us; be it through words or wars or both.”
She nudged Arwen’s side. “Always the wise words with your family,” she said. “Now, go on and finish Eluialeth’s book like you promised. No need to spend your time watching me go through all the detritus.”
“If you insist,” she said. She stood up and tapped Morwen on the nose. “Leave whatever you want me to send back to Imladris on the desk. I promise it will arrive with all the respect shown to my correspondence.” Arwen leaned down and hugged her. “You better see me before you ride off with that escort. I require a fare well.”
Morwen smiled. “As the Lady of Imladris bids,” she said. She waved Arwen away. “Go, young elfling, enjoy a life not so weighed down by the rights and duties of Councillorship.”
“You would not enjoy any other lot in life,” Arwen promised. She gave Morwen one last hug before taking the exit route of the tree limbs.
Morwen looked around her room. “I need to learn how to write more in less space,” she muttered to the air.
Arwen stopped at the threshold to her room, sensing a familiar presence on the other side.
“You taught Elladan how to lurk outside doorways, did you not?” she asked, entering her room and spotting Glorfindel at her desk.
“If I taught your brother how to do such a thing, you never would have found him,” he said. “I am here to officially inform you of my departure at dawn. I am leading an escort to Thranduil’s Halls, as I am sure you know by now.”
“I was under the impression my Grandmother was not willing to allow such a thing,” she said. She sat down in her desk chair and tilted her head up at him. “What caused the change?”
Glorfindel smiled down at her. “Your mother used that same technique; innocent inquiry matched with a defiant gaze. You may assume a submissive position but you give a demanding look. I did not know she taught it to you.”
“Of course she did, I am her daughter. Now, will you answer my question?”
He laughed. “And as verbally demanding as your father. Arwen, my child, you are a gift.” He reached out a hand to ruffle her hair. “I will concede to your demand. Cirdan had a vision and he is the one entity on Arda Galadriel will always defer to. He does have the tendency to make the oldest and wisest among us come to a heel. And whether or not Galadriel wants to admit it, she cannot deny the request of the Crown Prince’s wife to return to her home. Not when there are greater things at stake. Despite his reputation, few have witnessed the true wrath of King Thranduil and Galadriel is one of the few who remember just how much power is in his spirit.”
“Truly?” she asked.
“There is much about the Sindar unknown to the Noldor and even more about the Silvan for we came into their lands and tried to tell them that their ways were unlearned and unrefined. Noldor gain their power through knowledge; we have a knack for learning and creation. The Sindar, at least those straight down from the Teleri, know the sea. The Silvan, however, pull power from the very earth and Thranduil, while Sindar by birth has spent an Age ruling the Silvan and even longer cultivating his own skills. That elf could bring down a mountain with his wrath and I do not mean that as an expression,” Glorfindel said, eyes on the horizon.
“If that is true, then why does he not end this battle with one swift blow?” Arwen asked.
He turned his gaze back to her. “Because the cost would be too great and even Thranduil recognizes the need for allies. As your father often says, ‘Just because you can, does not mean you should.’ It is a lesson the elves who lived through the Second Age learned most painfully,” Glorfindel answered.
Arwen smiled at Glorfindel and gave his face an affectionate pat. “May I go with you?” she asked.
He shook his head. “You know I cannot allow that, Arwen. It will be a dangerous journey as is and with a war brewing, I cannot remove you from the protection of your mother’s home.”
“I am a liability,” she said. She felt her jaw clench at the familiar tightening of her royal bonds.
Glorfindel gripped her shoulder. “I know it frustrates you, but the way to Mirkwood is not safe, even with the wizards clearing the forest. Things have a tendency to linger there.” He paused for a moment. “I will ask your father’s permission for your attendance to Balanauth’s wedding. There will be enough time for me to properly assign and outfit a guard.”
“Promise?” Arwen asked.
“Of course,” he assured her.
She stood and pulled him into a hug. “I know none of us revel in the bonds and boundaries you place on us all, and I know you do it for our safety, but I have lived all these many years on Arda and have not laid eyes on that Elvenhome.”
“There are elves much older than you who have never walked among those trees or through those stone doors. There are elves who will never see it, and that number increases with each day, but I promise you, you will one day see all the wonders of Thranduil’s home. He would be eager to receive you.”
Arwen took in a deep breath, holding Glorfindel’s familiar scent which always meant safety and her father’s home close to her chest. “You will watch over them, Eluialeth and Morwen, yes?”
“With all that is in me,” he answered.
“Do not forget to watch over yourself,” she scolded.
Glorfindel laughed again, the melodious sound making her smile.
“I shall do as you command,” he said.
Arwen stood hidden in the trees as she watched the escort ride out with the morning. A few elves of the Golden Wood rode with them, but they would drop off as the party approached the boundaries of Mirkwood. The rest of the company was comprised of elves from Mirkwood and Imladris, with a few members of the Wandering Company who had decided to linger under the trees for some time. She watched them all ride out, her eyes resting on each member of the party, each beloved face and cunning smile, before turning away. One day soon she would ride in an escort leaving the Golden Wood. One day soon she would take that journey home to the running water and brisk air of Imladris. Not this day, not in the coming years, but she did feel the need for her father’s home more keenly in her spirit than ever before. The world was changing, much more quickly than any elf could know or comprehend, but Arwen could feel it and knew, deep inside her mind, the events of this battle would set in motion even more important things.
“Be safe,” she whispered to the wind.